University of Zurich, Dept. of Geography

Themes in Environmental Humanities

Seminar | Spring Term 2020
PD Dr. Marcus Hall


previous project


next project

© Alison Pouliot

This advanced seminar introduces and explores the rising field of environmental humanities. Our approach is to consider key environmental problems, and then see how humanities-oriented fields can apply their insights toward understanding and even offering solutions to these problems.

Human geographers, historians, anthropologists, philosophers, artists, ethicists, and literature experts all provide their own ways of knowing the environment, often by borrowing from the environmental sciences but while providing distinct ways of investigating the natural world.

Readings and discussions will consider such topics as climate change, biodiversity loss, resource & energy scarcity, toxic emissions, environmental diseases, marine pollution, urban congestion, and sustainability from the perspective of human values, stories, qualitative reasoning, case studies, and traditional & sensory knowledge.

Occasional guest presentations will broaden the range of our methodologies. We will also offer occasional in-class film viewings.  Student discussion is a key component of the course, and will center on each week's readings or other assigned topics. There is no final examination, so full oral and written participation are crucial. Journal entries, plus a significant research paper (with draft & final copy) or other major creative product (such as a film or other fine arts product) are the main deliverables of the class.